Springing our clocks forward left many of us feeling sluggish from losing that extra hour of sleep. But before too long, our bodies have adjusted to the time change and life goes on. Imagine, however, feeling exhausted and lethargic most of the time, no matter how much you sleep. For older adults experiencing chronic fatigue, it is a frustrating reality and can be tough to conquer.
- Health conditions, such as cancer, heart problems, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and others
- Medication side effects
- Sleep disorders
- Anxiety, depression, and grief
- Loneliness and boredom
- Unhealthy lifestyle choices, including a poor diet, too little physical activity, or too much alcohol
There are several strategies that older adults can use to attempt to regain energy throughout the daytime hours. A good place to begin is documenting the times every day when the fatigue is most extreme. Is it before/after eating? Immediately upon getting out of bed? Following an extended period of watching television? After taking any particular medications?
Knowing the patterns of fatigue will help pinpoint the source, and then you can see if any of these tactics help lessen it:
Schedule a checkup with a healthcare provider. Bring the senior’s fatigue diary with you and review it with his or her physician to rule out any underlying conditions and offer recommendations to help.
- Create – and stick to – an exercise routine. Physical activity strengthens the heart, lungs, and muscles while boosting mood, appetite, and overall outlook on life.
- Skip naptime. This can be especially problematic for an older adult with chronic fatigue, but avoiding naps, particularly later in the day, will help foster an improved night’s sleep.
- Quit smoking. Smoking can cause a variety of medical problems that reduce energy levels. The doctor can help with a senior’s nicotine addiction if needed.
- Seek counseling. Talking through life’s difficulties with a professional therapist is a great way to lessen stress, often leading to improved sleep patterns. The therapist might also recommend calming techniques, such as meditation, mindfulness, prayer, or deep breathing exercises a senior can do at home.
Additionally, it’s important to understand that the foods an older adult eats can be one of the causes of fatigue in seniors. Alicia Arbaje, MD, MPH, a geriatrician at Johns Hopkins, says, “Packaged, processed foods tend to make you feel sluggish and heavy.” Fresh, whole foods are best, together with those containing vitamin B12, found in animal proteins and nondairy fortified milks.
Let Grace Home Care in Topeka help an older adult you love with chronic fatigue. We can ensure medications are being taken correctly, prepare healthy and balanced meals, provide motivation to remain physically active, and offer friendly companionship along the way. Reach out to us for a free in-home consultation at 785-286-2273 for additional details on how our Topeka senior care services provide a brighter outlook on life for older adults at home. See our website for our full service area.